I see that Sunday, April 23, is designated as the Festival of God's Creation on the official United Methodist calendar. What is this? What is the purpose? What should our church do?
The United Methodist Church designates one Sunday each year, preferably the Sunday closest to Earth Day (April 22), as a Festival of God's Creation, celebrating God's gracious work in creating the earth and all living things. Many congregations recognize the day in worship; others have special events or projects to observe it.
Discipleship Ministries has liturgy and other worship resources for United Methodists to use in celebrating the Festival. The resources, found at www.umcdiscipleship.org/worship/church-civic-holidays/festival-of-gods-creation, are also appropriate for services on Earth Day.
Genesis says it was God who created the very first Earth Day: "The second day God said, 'Let there be space to divide the waters into two parts.' And it was so. God called the space Sky. 'Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place and let dry land appear.' ... God called the dry land Earth and the waters that were gathered together, Seas. God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:9-10, New Revised Standard Version
On April 22, 1970, the United States began celebrating Earth Day annually, creating a movement that now motivates people around the world to use the day to consider the planet, demonstrate their love for it and enact ways to protect it. Organizers anticipate more than one billion people around the globe will take part in events this year engaging in environmental issues.
The General Board of Church and Society works with ecumenical partners through Creation Justice Ministries to rally Christians on behalf of protecting God's creation.
The United Methodist Church is among 37 national faith bodies, including Protestant denominations and Orthodox communions, as well as regional faith groups, and congregants working with Creation Justice Ministries to protect and restore God's Creation. Resources to mark Creation Justice's Earth Sunday (the same day as Festival of God's Creation) can be found at www.creationjustice.org/earth-day-sunday.html. Resources for 2017 will be posted soon.
Adapted from an article by Jeneane Jones posted at www.umc-gbcs.org on April 14, 2016.